3/9/2006 - HFD: Fire Briefs (updated 3/26/07); Fire Safety



On Thursday, March 22, 2007, at 1546 hours, the Hackensack Fire Department received numerous phone alarms reporting a fire in 156-158 Main Street. On arrival, the members of the First Platoon found heavy smoke showing from the roof and rear of the two (2) story ordinary structure, housing stores on the first floor and offices on the second floor.

The firefighters quickly stretched attack hoselines into the building and second floor where they encountered heavy smoke and offices on fire. As they advanced to contain and extinguish the fire Ladder 1 quickly raised the aerial ladder to the roof and firefighters ascended to the roof for ventilation where they found heavy smoke and fire extended through a burned out skylight. These members opened an additional ventilation hole in the roof to release the heat and smoke and to control the fire which had extended from the second floor into the cockloft (attic area) above. Simultaneously, firefighters were searching the second floor for possible victims.

A Second Alarm of fire was transmitted for additional companies and manpower to assist. Mutual Aid Companies relocated to provide City wide fire coverage.

One Firefighter sustained a knee injury. He was transported and treated in Hackensack Medical Center.

The cause was determined to be accidental electrical by the Bergen County Prosecutors Office and members of the Hackensack Fire Department.


On Tuesday, March 20, 2007, Mayor Sasso and the City Council were happy to introduce Firefighter Michael Thomasey and Probationary Firefighter David Marques during a Swearing In Ceremony of the newest members of the Hackensack Fire Department.


Members of the Hackensack Fire Department’s Third Platoon are clearing away the snow and ice during a storm on Friday, March 16, 2007. The snow blower was donated to the Fire Department, Station 2, by Home Depot of Hackensack, Store Manager David Amato.

Chief Thornton stated the snow blower was a tremendous help during the last heavy snow and ice storm. He is grateful to Home Depot for their generous donation and support of the Hackensack Fire Department.


On Saturday, March 10, 2007, at 2316 hours, the Hackensack Fire Department received a phone alarm reporting a fire in 43 Elm Avenue. On arrival, the members of the First Platoon found heavy smoke showing the roof line of the structure with fire showing out of windows on the second floor. An occupant of the second floor apartment had self evacuated the fire, however sustained burns to his hands and arms.

The firefighters quickly stretched two (2) attack hose lines to contain and extinguish the fire as other firefighters searched the apartment for possible victims. Members of Ladder 1 vented the roof and second floor windows in a coordinated effort to vent the building of high heat and heavy smoke.

The fire caused heavy fire damage to the second floor and water damage to the first floor. Occupants of both apartments were self-relocated.

The fire was determined to be accidental, electrical in nature.

One civilian sustained burn injuries and was treated in Hackensack University Medical Center.

On Thursday, March 8, 2007, at 1907 hours, the Hackensack Fire Department received numerous telephone alarms reporting a fire in 685 Main Street. On arrival, the members of the Third Platoon found a three story wood frame mixed occupancy with heavy fire showing out of all the windows of the second floor and heavy smoke pouring out of the third floor. Simultaneously, an electrical power line burned off the building and was “dancing” on the street in front of the fire building, producing an electrocution hazard.

The fire conditions were antagonized by freezing temperatures, a stiff wind and the electrocution hazard. The firefighters quickly maintained a defensive fire attack with large caliber master streams and laddered the adjacent building’s flat roofs in an attempt to enter the building, however the heavy fire prevented access into the building.

Fire Chief Thornton stated the firefighters did a good job battling a well developed fire and during freezing temperatures and a stiff wind. They contained the fire to the original building with no fire extension into the adjacent building, which sustained water and smoke damage.

An occupant of the building self evacuated uninjured. One firefighter sustained an eye injury and was treated and released by Hackensack University Medical Center.

The cause was determined to be accidental by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.

J. Fletcher Creamer Construction removed a portion of the third floor which presented a collapse hazard.

On Friday, March 2, 2007, the City found itself consumed by a rain deluge which by 0800 hours produced well over two inches of rain. Coupled with a snow melt flooding of roads and streams quickly followed.

The Hackensack Fire Department began to receive numerous reports of stranded motorists in flood waters in the South end of the City. Rescue Boat, Marine 1 and Engine Company 1 assisted in removing those victims. Simultaneously, flood waters rose out of Coles Brook and quickly inundated the area of North Main Street, Romaine Court, Kinderkamack Road, and Johnson Avenue with waist deep water.

Rescue Boat Marine 2 was quickly placed in service to assist and remove occupants of the apartment and condos in that area.

Emergency Management opened the Emergency Operations Center and also the Civic Center as a shelter for the evacuees.

During the storm the members of the First Platoon responded to thirty eight (38) storm related emergencies including a house fire involving 238 Johnson Avenue. The fire caused by flood waters in the basement caused the heating unit to catch fire, which was quickly extinguished by Fire Companies in the area.

Fire Chief Thornton stated the flooding in the North end of the city was substantial and involved a number of residences. He stated the firefighters did a good job during the storm and was happy to report there were no injuries sustained to emergency workers or civilians.

The Hackensack building Department and DPW did a good job in damage assessment and restoring the area following the storm.

On Saturday, February 17, 2007, at 2249 hours the Hackensack Fire Department received a report of activated fire alarm and sprinkler flow in 370 W. Pleasantview Avenue. On arrival the members of the Fourth Platoon found moderate smoke showing from the roof line of the one story strip mall occupied by stores.

Investigation found a fire involving a storeroom which was contained by the buildings sprinkler system. The firefighters quickly stretched an attack line and completed extinguishing the fire.

There were no injuries and the cause was determined to be accidental.

City of Hackensack
Fire Department
Cold Weather Fire Safety

Abnormally cold weather can increase the threat of home fires due to improper use of alternate heating sources. To ensure your safety and prevent fires the Department of Community Affairs in conjunction with the Division of Fire Safety has put together the following cold weather fire safety information…

Space Heater Safety

All heaters are dangerous if not used properly, so electric heaters must be selected and used with care:

· All portable heaters should bear the mark of an independent testing laboratory indicating that the heater has met basic safety standards.

· Be sure to use a space heater according to the manufacturer's instructions.

· Only use heaters that are equipped with automatic safety switches that turn off the unit if it is tipped over accidentally.

· Check the cord before plugging in the heater; if frayed, worn or broken, do not use it.

· Never use an extension cord with a portable heater.

· Keep portable electric heaters away from sinks, tubs and other wet or damp places to avoid deadly electric shocks.

· Keep all space heaters at least three feet away from curtains, bedding, newspapers or anything that might burn.

· Never leave the heater unattended keep children and pets away and never leave the house or go to bed without turning off the heater.

· Do not hang items to dry above the heater.

Fireplace, Wood Burning Stoves & Kerosene Heaters

Safe and proper operation of these devices will help ensure your safety and protect your home from a devastating fire.

· Chimneys should be inspected annually by a professional service, and cleaned if necessary.

· Check the chimney for cracks or loose masonry, and for separation from the structure.

· Check the chimney flu-damper is opened fully before lighting the fire.

· Always have a metal mesh screen in front of your fireplace to help prevent hot embers from igniting near-by objects.

· Keep air inlets on stoves clear, and never restrict the flow of air into a fireplace.

· Only use seasoned wood (at least one year old) for burning.

· Follow the manufacturer's instructions when using synthetic logs.

· Never use any flammable liquid to start your fire.

· Before going to bed, make sure that the fire is out, and the damper is open. A closed damper, with live coals, can cause the coals to re-ignite, causing a release of carbon monoxide.

· Do not discard hot ashes in or near the house, nor in the vicinity of any combustible material.

Kerosene Heaters

· Be sure kerosene heaters bear the mark of an independent testing laboratory indicating that the heater has met basic safety standards.

· Inspect exhaust parts for carbon build-up, and other blockages.

· Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over and only use with adequate room ventilation; burning fuel produces deadly fumes.

· Use only the fuel recommended by the heater's manufacturer.

· Keep the kerosene, or other fuel, stored in an approved container, in a well ventilated area, and outside the house.

· Refuel the heater outside of your house.

· Never fill the heater while it is in-use, or still hot from use, and never overfill.

· Keep children and pets away from the heater.  

Other Heating Safety Information

· Never use an oven; range top, or any other such device, for supplemental heating this will produce elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

· Be sure to have at least one working smoke detector, and one working carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home. These detectors should be inspected and cleaned, as necessary, on a monthly basis. Replace batteries at least twice a year.

· Develop a fire escape plan before a fire occurs. Be certain that all members of the household understand the plan and are able to carry out the plan in case of an emergency.

· Be sure the plan includes a predetermined meeting place outside the house.

For additional information call the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety at 609-633-6106 or visit the Division’s web page http://www.nj.gov/dca/dfs.



Fire Safety


  • Install Smoke Detectors
  • Change your Clocks and Batteries

Preparing For an Emergency

  • Have Smoke Alarms
  • Make an Escape Plan
  • Practice Your Plan

During an Emergency

  • React quickly, follow your plan
  • Know two ways out
  • Call 911
  • Never go back inside a burning building
  • Crawl low under smoke
  • Use stairs, not elevators 

For additional Fire Safety information call or visit:
Hackensack Fire Headquarters
205 State Street
Hackensack, New Jersey 07601
Telephone number: 201-646-7685

Carbon Monoxide Safety

     It is that time of the year where everyone is using their heating units, fireplaces, and your houses are fully closed up. This is the time of the year we need to pay close attention to our carbon monoxide alarms. If your alarm activates call 9-1-1 and vacate your residence. The Hackensack Fire Department will respond to your home and take readings with specialized meters to ensure your home is safe.

What is Carbon Monoxide?
- Colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas.
- Produced by incomplete burning of solid, liquid, and gas fuels.
- Appliances fueled with natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, oil, kerosene, coal, or wood can produce carbon monoxide
- Burning charcoal and running cars produce carbon monoxide

What are the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning?
- Headache
- Fatigue
- Shortness of Breath
- Nausea
- Dizziness
- Flu like symptoms

CO Safety:
- Install a carbon monoxide detector
- Make sure your heating unit is serviced annually
- Make sure your fireplaces are cleaned annually
- Never burn charcoal inside home, garage, tent, or vehicle
- Never leave a car running inside a garage, even if the door is open
- Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers for heating your home
- Never operate unvented fuel burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows or in any room people are sleeping
- Do not use gasoline powered tools or engines indoors.

What should I do if my alarm activates or I think I may CO poisoning?
- Call 9-1-1 and have fire department respond
- Vacate residence into fresh air
- Do not re-enter structure until the fire department says your home is safe to enter
- Report any of your symptoms so medical aid can be provided
- Don’t Hesitate

     This Safety Message is being provided by the Hackensack Fire Department and has been approved and released by Chief Joel Thornton.